Climate change consortium a model for public private partnerships
The Built Environment Support Group (BESG) is a lead partner in a consortium led by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) that has secured one of 17 global awards (NIE's) from the United Nations Adaptation Fund. The grant, amounting to US $8m over 5 years, will support work on climate change adaptation in the uMgungundlovu District of KwaZulu-Natal, and is a model for externally funded public-private partnerships.
The project has its origins in the development of a Strategic Environmental Management Plan for uMgungundlovu District Municipality (uMDM) between 2011 and 2013. uMDM and BESG formed a strategic partnership to promote public participation strategies in 2010, and the Plan was developed through an inclusionary approach involving a broad range of government, academic, and civil society stakeholders. The Environmental Management Forum was well placed when SANBI issued a proposal call for projects that could bid for a slice of the UN Adaptation Fund. Several members of the Forum collaborated in a submission that was finally approved in October 2014. The project was officially launched in the presence of the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, on 20th February.
The project brings together uMDM Disaster Management, Umgeni Water, the University of KwaZulu-Natal Faculty of Agriculture, BESG, and WESSA in order to roll out a comprehensive strategy for strengthening the resilience of rural and peri-urban communities in coping with the effects of severe weather patterns associated with climate change. SANBI acts as the National Implementing Entity and uMDM the Local Implementing Entity. Interventions focused on 4 pilot project areas will include developing community early warning systems for storms and flash floods, wetland rehabilitation, promoting climate-smart techniques for small scale farmers affected by floods and drought, and for BESG’s part, “climate proofing human settlements.”
BESG’s own exposure to climate change adaptation work emerged from a participatory learning programme focusing on water, energy, and food security that won a Mail and Guardian Greening the Future Award for social innovation in July 2014. The climate-proofing concept is a more hard-edged extension of its housing work, to reduce the potential impact of severe storms on communities by implementing flood diversion and attenuation measures, and reinforcing informal dwellings against storm damage.
Photo: Members of the SANBI consortium at the official launch of the Climate Change Adaptation Project. Project champion Dr. Mandy Barnett is seated in the front row extreme right, and BESG Executive Director Cameron Brisbane is standing in the back row extreme right.
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